tv News Nation MSNBC January 29, 2013 2:00pm-3:00pm EST
earned citizenship plan and limbaugh asked what all this means for some call the president's plan to obliterate the gop. >> on your first point about them beating us up for two years it is not an agreement. that's precisely why i thought it was important that the principles out there early. they can try to sell that but i doubt people are going to buy it. >> happening within the hour, president obama will arrive in vegas where just a few minutes ago, the white house confirmed the white house will embrace the senate plan unveiled yesterday this time and despite the headline in "washington post," quote, obama to announce his immigration reform plan said to be more liberal than the senate effort. our first read team calls that reporting outdated, writing, that it had the bipartisan senators not acted yesterday, you likely would have seen obama offer his own plan. but the senators did act and their plan is the plan. the last thing the white house wants to do is blow up this
fragile coalition. congressman mario diaz balart out of florida. thank you for your time. >> great pleasure being here. >> absolutely. first let me get your thoughts on the likelihood of this deal being reached. we now know from the white house, the president will give the remarks within the hour he basically is in line with the principles that were proposed by the bipartisan group and if there's dissession or divide, what is it? >> well, remember what the senators did and glad they did that, put together principles and yet to see from the senate language. us in the house trying for years to have the legislative language and should have that relatively soon. i don't think, though, there's a lot of difference between the principles of the senators put on on the table with what some of us believe we can put in legislative language but the devil's in the details, obviously.
>> absolutely. some of the details we know deal with border security and of those consider themselves conservatives feel it's a top priority. a path to citizenship not quote/unquote amnesty and earned legal status. as i mentioned, marco rubio was on with rush limbaugh and rush posed this question to senator rubio that there are people who are now coming to this country basically because they want to live off the government. he compared them to people of emigrated to this country in the past, hard workers and now you have a group of people who essentially want to be on welfare. when you hear that notion, or that idea coming from the leading voice in the conservative party, your party, the republicans, what do you say that to? >> well, remember, an i respect anybody's point of view but he's not a member of our leadership. he's not a member of the house or the senate. he has the right, obviously, under the first amendment and we all appreciate that to say
whatever he wants but we can deal with issues of making sure people who are here are not a charge on the public system. we can deal with those issues through legislative language. the question is this. do we want to solve what the american people know is absolutely broken or talk about it and do nothing about it? if we want to solve it, what i'm saying is that reasonable people will reach relatively similar conclusions. we will have differences on details, on some -- but we all know that the system is absolutely broken. and i think it's time to quit talking about it and put proposals on the table. it's a great step in the right direction. now, i think from the house you will see some legislative language and also from the snathd. we can discuss the details and get it papassed. >> that seems to be the strategy the white house wanted to see and the president said through the white house he supports the idea and met with the congressional hispanic caucus and told the president not to or
suggested he not counter the senate plan with that quote/unquote more progressive or liberal idea, that he embrace the plan on -- that will soon be on the table by spring or summer. we both know there's a concern of house republicans. you have house republicans, members of the tea party and from my home state of texas, for example, hell bent on fighting anything that they perceive whether it's actual or not as something called amnesty here. how do you deal with those members of your party who are fighting this tooth and nail without there being legislation on the table? they're fighting just the notion of something here. >> again, look. there are always going to be those on the right and left to criticize anything as you well stated before there's legislation or criticize anything. but we shouldn't be too worried about that and try to come up with solutions for what everybody knows is broken. and the solutions have to deal with border security. we have to guarantee that, look, the united states has the same
right and responsibility that other nations have to determine who comes and who leaves. we have -- >> should border security be linked to legal status of those who are already in this country, some kind of deal, if you will, of a trigger as it relates to border security and what to do with the 11 million people in this country undocumented? >> you know, a lot of people talk about whether we can decouple the issues. the reality is that it is all linked. the whole system from a to z is broken and very intertwined so i think we need to fix the system and when's broken. everything is broken. in my estimate, we have to basically go through it soup to nuts and fix what's broken and very difficult to unwind what in essence is very, very tangibled together so i believe and again if you believe like i do that the immigration system is broken, the fact we have people here who we have to deal with, whether some may like it or not, if you believe like i do, we have to fix it, let's fix it.
if you have a car that's not running, you just put a tire on it. you fix the automobile. >> okay. >> the immigration system is broken. we have to fix it. i think that's what the people sent us to washington to do, to fix difficult problems. this is difficult problem but we can fix it. >> i'm out of time but would you have this urgency or would the party have this urgency were it not for how the election turned out? is it genuine? >> i think both party haves an emergency. >> the language of the republican party, seen john mccain in the past running for president literally boo'd if you will off stage talking about immigration reform and rick perry bringing up a legal status or what to do with the children brought to this country through no fault of their own. i guess the basic fact is this notion genuine when it's linked according to john mccain to votes? >> look. i'm trying to do this since i've been in congress for ten years. always urgent for me. the question is, are others now
seeing the urgency? i hope the answer is yes. but i'll tell you what. i hope to find out relatively soon because we're moving forward. we'll try to solve the issue, put real solutions on the table and let's see what the democratic process does with it. >> thank you for your time. i greatly appreciate it. let's bring in the political panel. john rolston, patricia and raul reyes. let me start off with you, maria teresa. what did you think of the congressman? he is a republican, a conservative. and he's saying for him there's been urgency and a desire to do this all along but we know it had to take that election perhaps to push other elements of the party forward. >> what he's saying is absolutely right. he is trying to work across the aisle with congressmen and
congresswoman and coming from a genuine place, he recognized coming from the state of florida and his family roots our system is broken and there is yet to i find an american who's not touched by someone undocumented in the united states. what the rest of the republican party realized after the election is that the latino vote is critical and it's for representatives the heed what the electorate wants and not only do the voters want this, asian voters and majority of americans also believe the system is broken and needs to be fixed. >> you talk about cynicism or that there's not at least in part of the actions of some but i have to bring up, raul, what our first read team says may be the strategy for senator rubio and others to bring their conservative members of the party on board. that they have to appear to be fighting the president even though the president says the ideas are in line with what we heard from the bipartisan group
to avoid giving the president a win, they have to push back with certain language. i bring that up because senator rubio just on with rush limbaugh. let's play an exchange when rush asked why some people are still coming to this country and what they want. >> i'm seeing a number of research, scholarly research data which says that vast majority of arriving immigrants today come here because they believe that government is the source of prosperity. >> i haven't done a scholarly study. i can only tell you about the people i interact with and the folks i interact with, once they get in to this country and start to work and open up a business, they start to understand the cost of big government. i see it every day firsthand from people that have been here and eight to ten years, all of a sudden they have a business, a bunch of permits to comply with, complicated laws. >> so is there an appropriate response of senator rubio?
should he, i don't know, honed in more to say when's truth and fact here? >> right. i believe the nicest thing we can say about senator rubio at this point is he does not really play well with others. he is part of a coalition that's very fragile. he wants to move it forward and i was astounded that he let rush limbaugh's totally false assertion that undocumented people come here to get government services and no scholarly reports to support that. senator rubio let that pass as though that's true which is not and also, it's a tricky dance. they don't want to give approval to anything that obama is doing and yet at the same time if he wants to share in the credit, he has to share in the risk and that means aligning himself with the other democratic senators and possibly the president. that's the cost of doing something, we have a big problem and the cost of solving a big problem. >> john, you, as well, you know nevada better than anyone. that is your town and you write extensively on the demographics, the change. we have talked about reid and
his victory there and certainly some would have said was beatible but not by sharon angle. with that said, you have got the president on the ground in nevada. why is that -- i guess a perfect place if you will for this launch to hear from him in about 40 minutes or so? >> well, tamron, even though we are not a border state, we are an emblem of what's happening in this country. the hispanic population is burgeoning for sometime. now about a quarter of the state. it was about 20% of the electorate and talk about the election results that john mccain was talking about yesterday. barack obama won the latino vote about 55 points here in 2012. about the same percentage that he won by in 2008. and look at where the president is going today to make the announcement. going to a high school which is about 62% hispanic population of kids. maybe the biggest problem in this state facing the education
system is a lot of hispanic kids who have come here and dumped in to the public school system, can't speak english that well and so that's a huge issue here in nevada. considering that we voted for the president here in nevada twice, i think it's a thank you, too. >> let me play -- you brought up senator mccain and we heard his remarks yesterday. but i want to take us back in time if you will. 2010, this ad that ran during that presidential election. at general election. let me play what he said. >> complete the dang fence. >> it will work this time. senator, you're one of us. >> for too long to allow individuals no tour lawn, serve our food, clean our homes and even watch our children while not affording them any of the benefits that make our country so great. >> maria teresa, i don't want to go back in the past too hard here but we saw what happened in 2007 when george w. bush's plan
went down in flames. if john mccain had uttered the words he said yesterday, in 2010, might there have been progress or was he playing, i guess, to the song that folks he thought wanted to hear? i don't know. make or help me understand this. >> yeah. i think senator mccain basically wanted to be part of what everybody thought was going to be the tea party movement that was going to be long lasting. i think that right now the tea party taken a second fiddle now to the republican party an he wants to make sure to create and leave the legacy that he started back with the bush administration. however, i do caution the republicans on the extreme right. the rush limbaughs of the world. the more you start talking about latinos and basically make them agreeable with amnesty, then it doesn't matter the immigration reform you pass. the republican party still has to make sure they're welcoming the latino community by talking to them straight, talking to them honestly and more importantly, with respect. >> it's interesting --
>> i think that's very important. >> you have a conservative group of hispanic leadership network and came out with a list of dos and don'ts. don't use phrases like anchor baby or -- >> right. >> right. >> you know, they say here use the phrase earned legal status. don't use pathway to citizenship and some other dos or don'ts. don't use the word illegals and ill yens or as i brought up to you anchor baby. isn't it interesting you have to have a -- i guess -- i don't know. a language lesson. >> it is shocking. >> i mean, that's -- that sounds stunning because i believe they know exactly what they're doing and that you have to give a crash course to conservatives. >> it's a primer. in a sense, it's a primer and goes to show that the gop is so desensitized to hispanic voters, they have to start with the abcs of how to talk to the latinos
and terms like anchor baby are highly offensive to all latinos. they're not illegal. they need to learn. there's a difference. >> not like they're functioning from ignorance. they know what. >>er that doing with those words. >> tamron, i think what happened for a listening time the republican party and the democratic party when they thought of a latino voter, they thought the only way to reach them is in spanish and oh my gosh, they speak english and understand what we're saying and a reason they have to change their language because they recognize, yes, proud of the heritage and american first and we want the best thing for the country and the only way to attract us to the party is talkital talking to us in a way that's respectful to us and our families. >> john, we know the involvement with the community as well as raul. i know and you know people are not monolithic. but we know when there's recognized power, when you talk to people in nevada,
particularly hispanics, do they recognize the power this community now wields, especially the president coming there, ground zero, first public comments since that bipartisan group yesterday in your home state. >> well, i think you do see that and there have been people talking about that but the object lesson for dean heller the u.s. senator that just won a race by one percentage point. he used to say the word amnesty every other sentence talking about this. he's suddenly changed the tune. face it, tamron. all this rhetoric, whether it's rubio going and pandering to rush limbaugh's audience, eventually, all of these senators and house members are going to have to cast a vote on something. we presume. then we'll see where they are and doesn't matter whether they're using the right terminology or not. >> right on that. john, thank you very much. raul, a pleasure. coming up, a disturbing scene in connecticut when the dad of a child killed in the newtown tragedy is actually heckled.
>> now, one person can answer that question. forgive me. >> no, no. >> not be -- >> all right. >> we'll tell you more about that exchange and what was said to that dad. the incident comes ahead of tomorrow's senate hearing on gun violence, the first since the massacre at sandy hook and the senate will start debate of nomination of john kerry of secretary of state. who will governor duval choose as an interim replacement? >> what does that mean? >> anybody but barney? >> no. don't be like that. >> you can join our conversation on twitter, you can find us at tamron hall and at news nation. [ man ] ring ring... progresso this reduced sodium soup says it may help lower cholesterol, how does it work? you just have to eat it as part of your heart healthy diet. step 1. eat the soup. all those veggies and beans, that's what may help lower your cholesterol and -- well that's easy [ male announcer ] progresso. you gotta taste this soup.
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the senate is gearing up for the first congressional hearing on gun violence since the tragic shooting in newtown, connecticut. add voluntavocates will testify. yesterday, the president continued the push for new gun legislation at a meeting with law enforcement officials from around the country and in connecticut more than a thousand people showed up for a public hearing on gun violence that lasted over 12 hours. in fact, one point the father whose 6-year-old son died in sandy hook was heckled by people described as gun control opponents in his emotional testimony. >> why anybody in this room needs to have a -- one of these assault-style weapons or military weapons -- will not be -- >> all right. >> all right. >> please, please, no comments while he is speaking or we'll
clear the room. >> joining me now, molly ball, national political reporter for "the atlantic" and with us msnbc contributor jimmy williams. i'll get your reaction to what happened in that hearing. is that something that would describe, i guess, the passion that comes when you bring this topic or something else that we saw there? >> no. i think that's pretty much par for the course. i mean, we see folks on the right that are very, very passionate about this second amendment rights and think under no circumstances should they be infringed by the government, states or federal and so i see it. i don't agree with it but they have that right to have that opinion. the question becomes, what do the people behind us do about that right and whether or not they make a limitations on that? >> molly, maybe best described as a defiant tone. "the washington post" has an article out highlighting, if you will, or previewing the remarks to hear from wayne lapierre,
head of the nra and taking a quote, defiant tone, and prepared to attack not just the proposed assault weapons ban but the universal background check. he plans to go hard against that, as well. which is interesting, molly. that was the one proposal that folks thought you could get some support of both sides with a universal background check. >> i think it's still the case that you may see some support for -- from republicans for something like background checks. this is something that polls at 90% with the public as a whole but they're not going to have the backup of the nra and i don't think it's too surprising nra still opposed to any form of gun control. i actually thought that wayne lapierre's testimony which i have also seen is interesting because he seemed to back off some of the more incendiary rhetoric of other forums, most
notably, the initial press conference lashing out at the left and the media and everybody else and peek like the hecklers in the hearing and don't speak for the republican party and don't speak for the nra but it's sort of a piece with the strategy that the nra has where they're not talking to the broad majority of people and not talking to people who are in the middle on this issue but only a narrow angry base and the more they do that, the more they risk marginalizing themselves in this discussion. >> you say it shouldn't be a surprise that the nra not support an assault weapons ban and what was seen as the least controversial aspect of this debate has been a universal background check looking at the polling even folk who is are members of the nra and who republicans seem to support that idea. wayne lapierre is expected to say law abiding gun owners will not accept blame for the acts of
deranged or violent criminals. he says that the background checks issue according to him lets be honest, they will never work because criminals never submit to them. molly, this is supposed to be the least controversial. with the polling, the one thing that those that hold on to the second amendment and feel that the obama administration wants to come after their guns still support, you know, some type of legislation on background checks. or universal background checks. >> sure. what i think we can read in to that is the nra sees it as their job, their mandate to oppose any form of gun control. that's what their members expect from them. the fact that something like that still polls so highly and still has some traction even among republican legislators tells you that the nra is not successful in dictating the party line. that the nra can be against something and there will still be leaders in the congress and in the public who feel that they have the freedom to deviate from that, that the nra can't tell
them what to do. >> jimmy, the senate hearing witness list, folks from both sides, pro safety, mark kelly, james johnson, a chief of police in baltimore and chairman of the national law enforcement partnership. those on the other side, wayne lapierre, nicholas johnson and gayle trotter but as i understand it, you heard there's some concern that there's a slant to those witnesses that they're more gun advocates than those who want to see some safety legislation put in place. >> well, that's right. i think that you have a more than handful senate democrats and not liberals, per se, pretty upset about the fact that chairman leahy of vermont who's the chairman stacked the witness list against those or in favor if you will of those who are against gun control and so i know that today senator dianne feinste feinstein, second on the
judiciary committee and has assurance to have another hearing without a witness list that will be stacked or stacked the other way, if you will. i mean, and so i think that you have members -- if you look at the dias, you have senators of big snams, new york, california, illinois, connecticut where newtown was. these are people that matter to this debate as does chairman leahy. and so, i think what we're going to have is a very strange hearing tomorrow, sort of a biassed witness list, but there will be further hearings forthcoming and that's probably a very good sign. the question becomes is, can you get to 60 on any of these when they get legislation to the senate floor and that's the mathematical problem on gun control. >> thank you very much. i'm sure we'll talk with you tomorrow. molly, great pleasure having you both on. developing news of las vegas, president obama just landed only moments ago. the president will deliver the
first public remarks on immigration reform since that bipartisan group of senators this time yesterday announced what they called a blueprint for immigration reform. next up, i'll talk with texas congressman sheila jackson lee and her thoughts on the immigration plan and what could possibly pass in the house. especially when we're talking about some of the conservatives in her caucus. today first the money minute. [ man ] i've been out there most of my life. you name it...i've hooked it. but there's one... one that's always eluded me. thought i had it in the blizzard of '93. ha! never even came close. sometimes, i actually think it's mocking me. [ engine revs ] what?! quattro!!!!! ♪
i have to know the weather patterns. i upgraded to the new sprint direct connect. so i can get three times the coverage. [ manager 2 ] it's like working in a giant sandbox. with all these huge toys. and with the fastest push-to-talk... i can keep track of them all. [ male announcer ] upgrade to the new "done" with access to the fastest push-to-talk and three times the coverage. now when you buy one kyocera duraxt rugged phone for $69.99, you'll get four free. other offers available. visit a sprint store, or call 855-878-4biz. developing now, president obama about to arrive in las vegas where he's expected to embrace the senate's bipartisan principles on immigration reform. the president will head to high school right outside the city described as a large latino population at the school. the president is scheduled to speak in about half an hour. we'll bring you the remarks. meantime, nbc news first read
team notes that this is an important test for senator rubio. he spent several days selling comprehensive immigration to conservatives and it may be a tough one. here's more of what senator rubio had to say within the past hour with rush limbaugh. >> so i know this is a tough issue. i do. i know why people are uncomfortable about it. it doesn't feel right in some instances to allow people undocumented and to stay here and this is a tough issue to work through. i know the president takes us in a direction i would not be comfortable with and i'm trying to do the best i can with what's already a tough situation. >> joining me now, nbc news senior political editor mark murray. mark, you and your team wrote about senator rubio's role in whatever negotiations that move forward but you also talk about the strategy of not appearing to give the president a win on any issue, including, of course, immigration reform. >> it's a balancing act.
one thing that marco rubio is trying to do is sell republicans and commentators that amnesty, what comprehensive immigration reform is not amnesty. he is making that case this a legalization with tough fines, with tough penalties isn't the same thing as you end up seeing in 1986. of course, conservative commentators for several years said anything amounting to legalization is amnesty. at the same time, you have seen his staff, some of his comments, kind of either poke at the white house, either criticize the white house, too, coming to comprehensive immigration reform and it is a delegate balancing act. one hand it seems they want this and can't be seen as in bed with the obama white house either. that's a very difficult place for a conservative to be, particularly one who might have his eyes on the 2016 white house. >> to your point, several times senator rubio in that interview with rush talked about the country going in the wrong direction and went on to say obama won't be president
forever. and that there will be someone else in the white house. but it is interesting what you call a balance because when you listen to that interview, and you hear marco rubio say i understand why some people feel that this is a wrong deal but i have to do it. it was almost as if he's reluctant and was dragging himself to this part of the conversation on immigration reform. it wasn't enthusiasm as if to say this is the right thing but i got to or we've got to do this. >> this is a recognition of the status quo right now to work for the republican party. the exit polls showed that they were performance with latinos was a disaster. obama getting 71% of the latino vote in the 2012 election. getting near that amount in the 2008 presidential election. and so marco rubio's trying to in some ways do the party a favor here and in a lot of ways it seems it is working. listen to that rush limbaugh interview. rush limbaugh was incredibly cordial even though he said the
day before he wanted to take down comprehensive immigration reform. marco rubio doesn't have to necessarily turn the people but not wage a crusade. >> thank you. >> thank you for having me this afternoon. >> i want to play what congressman lamar smith of course out of the great state of texas, as well we shouldn't be the surprised the senators for amnesty are still for amnesty today. it's going to cost taxpayers of millions of dollars, cost american workers thousands of jobs and nothing but encourage more illegal immigration. that is congressman smith already denouncing any idea of comprehensive immigration reform. how do you get members of the gop in the house on board when they're already shooting down this idea? >> tamron, i hope that no one
will ever have to hear the shrill scream i heard in my office when a mother fell down on the floor saying that we were going to try to help her college-aged student from being deported. this is a painful family issue of hard working individuals who pay their taxes, who are now looking for relief. i'll tell you the way that we'll be able to handle this, with the compassion and the understanding that we have no other place to go and with voices like senator mark rubio and we hope many more. i can't attribute to him a senator that promotes amnesty because he wasn't here in the united states congress but i also say to you that although congressman smith is my friend, he is wrong. for the last decade, we have not promoted amnesty. i introduced legislation that talked about legalization and it had to do with paying fines,
paying a duty in terms of either service in the military or charitable service. it said get in line and behind all those who had been in line so there were penalties and that's the focus of immigration reform for a decade. but as the president said, we have had nothing but debate and sound bites and no action. now i believe we have an opportunity for action. >> all right. and you believe and despite some members of the house who are republicans who, for example, congressman smith says, he doesn't believe that any proposal will make it through the senate. when you hear those kinds of comments, how do you maintain optimism? >> i guess we'll hear from the president this afternoon and he will probably reinforce access to legalization, access of secure borders and hiring the do undocumented. the way i plan to do it is wave of american sentiment. even those districts to argue no
one in my district wants me to vote for comprehensive immigration reform. do you believe in humanity? do you believe america is looked upon as the greatest nation in the world? immigrants helped build this country and then focus on how to resolve in a manner -- i'm the ranking member on the security committee. we have done a lot on border security. paid more to the border patrol than to the dea,atf and the fbi together. so, we have a foundation to stand on. now we have to address family reunification. the young people who we have thrown to the wayside getting education and not being able to use it, being brilliant and not being able to show it. i think america will say enough is enough and we'll work to create jobs for everyone, the unemployed and those who are coming in to the system. i don't think lamar smith, again, a good friend, and other republicans, are going to be able to stand up against the wave of support that will be coming to once and for all
resolve this immigration system that's broken and, tam on the, it is not amnesty. we are demanding a duty, an obligation, a responsibility. we are telling them, and they want that. that they have to give in order to get. that's a whole different system from amnesty. >> congresswoman, thank you for being here. >> thank you. the president arrived in las vegas and minutes away from delivering the first public remarks on immigration reform since that group of bipartisan senators released their plan. we'll bring you the president's comments as soon as we start. we'll be right back. when what you just bought, just broke. or when you have a little trouble a long way from home... as an american express cardmember you can expect some help. but what you might not expect, is you can get all this with a prepaid card.
>> your own mayor carolyn goodman. but we also have some mayors that flew in because they know how important the issue we're going to talk about today. maria lopez rogers from avondale, arizona. kasim reid, from atlanta, georgia. greg stanton from phoenix, arizona. and ashley swengin from fresno, california. and all of you are here. as well as some of the top labor leaders in the country and we are just so grateful. some outstanding business leaders are here, as well. and, of course, we got wonderful students here so i could not be prouder of our students.
now, those of you who have a seat feel free to take a seat. i don't mind. i love you back. now, last week, last week i had the honor of being sworn in for a second term as president of the united states. and during my inaugural address i talked about how making progress on the defining challenges of our time doesn't require us to settle every debate or ignore every difference that we may have. but it does require us to find common ground. and move forward in common purpose. it requires us to act. i know that some issues will be
harder to lift than others. some debates will be more contentious. that's to be expected. but the reason i came here today is because of a challenge where the differences are dwindling. we're a broad consensus is emer emerging. and where a call for action can now be heard coming from all across america. i'm here today because the time has come for common sense, comprehensive immigration reform. the time is now. now's the time. now's the time. now's the time. [ chanting ] now's the time.
i'm here because -- i'm here because most americans agree that it's time to fix the system that's been broken for way too long. i'm here because business leaders, faith leaders, labor leaders, law enforcement and leaders from both parties are coming together to say now is the time to find a better way to welcome the striving, hopeful imxwrai immigrants who still see america as the land of opportunity. now's the time to do this so we can strengthen our economy. and strengthen our country's future. think about it. we define ourselves as a nation of immigrants. that's who we are in our bones. the promise we see in those who come here from every corner of the globe, that's always been one of our greatest strengths. it keeps our workforce young. it keeps our country on the
cutting edge. and it's helped build the greatest economic engine the world has ever known. after all, immigrants help start businesses like google and yaho yahoo!. they created new industries that created new jobs and new prosperity for our citizens. in recent years, one in four high-tech start-ups in america were founded by immigrants. one in four new small business owners were immigrants including right here in nevada. folks who came here seeking opportunity and now want to share that opportunity with other americans. but we all know that today we have an immigration system that's out of date and badly broken. a system that's holding us back instead of helping us grow our economy and strengthen our middle class. right now, we have 11 million undocumented immigrants in
america. 11 million men and women from all over the world who live their lives in the shadows. yes. they broke the rules. they crossed the border illegally. maybe they overstayed their visas. those are the facts. nobody disputes them. but these 11 million men and women are now here. many of them have been here for years. and the overwhelming majority of these individuals aren't looking for any trouble. they're contributing members of the community. they're looking out for their families, they're looking out for their neighbors. they're woven in to the fabric of our lives. every day like the rest of us they go out and try to earn a living. often they do that in the shadow economy, a place where employers may offer them less than the minimum wage or make them work
overtime without extra pay. and when that happens, it's not just bad for them it's bad for the entire economy because all the businesses that are trying to do the right thing that are hiring people legally, paying a decent wage, following the rules, they're the ones who suffer. they have to compete against companies that are breaking the rules. and the wages and working conditions of american workers are threatened, too. so if we're truly committed to strengthening our middle class and providing more ladders of opportunity to those who are willing to work hard to make it in to the middle class, we've got to fix the system. we have to make sure that every business and every worker in america is playing by the same set of rules. we have to bring the shadow economy in to the light so that everybody's held accountable. businesses for who they hire and immigrants for getting on the right side of the law.
that's common sense. that's why we need comprehensive immigration reform. now, there's another economic reason why we need reform. it's not just about the folks who come here illegally and have the affect they have on our economy. it's also about the folks who try to come here legally but have a hard time doing so and the affect that has on our economy. right now, there are brilliant students from all over the world sitting in classrooms at our top universities. they're earning degrees in the fields of the future like engineering and computer science. but once they finish school, once they earn that diploma, there's a good chance they'll have to leave our country. think about that.
intel was started with the help of an immigrant who studied here and then stayed here. insta-gram was started with the help of an immigrant who studied here and then stayed here. right now, in one of those classrooms there's a student wrestling with how to turn their big idea, their intel or insta-gram in to a big business. we're giving them all the skills they need to figure that out but then we're going to turn around and tell them to start that business and create those jobs in china or india or mexico or some place else. that's not how you grow new industries in america. that's how you give new industries to our competitors. that's why we need comprehensive immigration reform.
we strengthened security at the borders to stem the tide of illegal immigrants. we put more boots on the ground at the southern border than any other time in our history and now illegal crossings are down 80% from their peak in 2000. second, we focused our enforcement efforts on criminals who are here illegally and who endanger our communities. and today, deportations of criminals is at its highest level ever. and third, we took up the cause of the dreamers. the young people who are brought to this country as children. young people who have grown up here, built their lives here, have futures here. we said if you're able to meet
some basic criteria like pursuing an education we'll consider offering you the chance to come out of the shadows to live here and work here legally so you can have the dignity of knowing you belong. but because this change isn't permanent, we need congress to act. and not just on the dream act. we need congress to act on a comprehensive approach that finally deals with the 11 million undocumented immigrants who are in the country right now. that's what we need. now the good news is that for the first time in many years republicans and democrats seem ready to tackle this problem together.
members of both parties in both chambers are actively working on a solution. yesterday, a bipartisan group of senators announced their principles for comprehensive immigration reform which are very much in line with the principles i have proposed and campaigned on for the last few years. so at this moment it looks like there's a genuine desire to get this done soon. and that's very encouraging. but this time action must follow. we can't allow immigration reform to get bogged down in an endless debate. we have been debating this a very long time so it's not as if we don't know technically what needs to get done. as a consequence to help move this process along, today i'm laying out my ideas for immigration reform and my hope is that this provides some key
markers to members of congress as they craft a bill because the ideas i'm proposing have traditionally been supported by democrats like ted kennedy and republicans like president george w. bush. you don't get that match-up very often. so, so we know where the consensus should be. now, of course, there will be rigorous debate about many of the details and every stakeholder should engage in real give and take in the process. but it's important for us to recognize that the foundation for bipartisan action is already in place. and if congress is unable to move forward in a timely fashion, i will send up a bill based on my proposal and insist that they vote on it right away.
so the principles are pretty straightforward. there are a lot of details behind it. we'll hand out a bunch of paper so everybody will know what we're talking about, but the principles are pretty straightforward. first, i believe we need to stay focused on enforcement. that means continuing to strengthen security at our borders. it means cracking down more forcefully on businesses that knowingly hire undocumented workers. to be fair, most businesses want to do the right thing but a lot of people have a hard time figuring out who's here illegally, who's not so we need to implement a national system for businesses to quickly and accurately verify someone's employment status and if they still knowingly hire
undocumented workers we need to ramp up the penalties. second, we have to deal with the 11 million individuals who are here illegally. we all agree that these men and women should have to earn their way to citizenship. but for comprehensive immigration reform to work it must be clear from the outset that there is a pathway to citizenship. we've got to lay out a path. a process that includes passing a background check, paying taxes, paying a penalty, learning english and then going to the back of the line behind all the folk who is are trying to come here legally. that's only fair. all right? so that means it won't be a quick process.
but it will be a fair process. and it will lift these individuals out of the shadows and give them a chance to earn their way to a green card and eventually to citizenship. and the third principle is to bring the legal immigration system in to the 21st century because it no longer reflects the realities of our time. for example, if you're a citizen, you shouldn't have to wait years before your family is able to join you in america. you shouldn't have to wait years. if you're a foreign student who wants to pursue a career in science or technology, or a foreign entrepreneur who wants to start a business with a backing of american investors, we should help you do that here because if you succeed you'll
create american businesses and american jobs. you'll help us grow our economy. you'll help us strengthen our middle class. so that's what comprehensive immigration reform looks like. smarter enforcement. a pathway to earned citizenship. improvements in the legal immigration system so that we continue to be a magnet for the best and the brightest all around the world. pretty straightforward. the question now is simple. do we have the resolve as a people, as a country, as a government to finally put this issue behind us? i believe that we do. i believe that we do. i believe we are finally in a moment where comprehensive immigration reform is within our
grasp. but i promise you this. the closer we get, the more emotional this debate is going to become. immigration's always been an issue that enflames passions. that's not surprising. you know? there are few thing that is are more important to us as a society than who gets to come here and call our country home. who gets the privilege of becoming a citizen of the united states of america. that's a big deal. when we talk about that in the abstract, it's easy sometimes for the discussion to take on a feeling of us versus them. and when that happens, a lot of folks forget that most of us used to be them. we forget that. it's really important for us to remember our